Wednesday, June 07, 2017

So many memories…

Yesterday, almost exactly 44 years since we first saw it, our old house up in the hills ceased to belong to us. New owners have moved in, with excited plans and hopes for their life there, and DH and I have been left with our memories of the many years it was our home.

I remember the day in 1973 when we went to view it for the first time and how we seemed to be travelling through a green tunnel as we drove from the village up the sunken road with its over-arching trees and high hedges, until we emerged at the top to a glorious view over the hills of Mid-Wales. 

I remember how we turned off the road and went down a rutted lane until we saw the sagging roof of the decrepit old farmhouse, which was all we could afford, and fell in love with it there and then.

I remember years of scrimping and saving until we had enough money to do the necessary renovations and how we still managed to have a very happy life with our two young children in its shabby rooms and lovely surroundings. 

I remember them playing outside in the summer and sledging down the big field in the snowy winters we had in the 70s and early 80s.

I remember the horrendous months of renovation work, during which we stored most of our possessions in the garage and camped in one room after another to let the builders get on with their work unhindered. It was during those months that one of the most indelible memories of all was formed, when early one morning I raced downstairs in my bare feet to the kitchen at the sound of the telephone and stood shivering on the rubble-strewn floor to hear the news that my mother had died.

I remember, indeed I will never forget, how the new bathroom created by the renovation work gave us one of the most wonderful views any house could have and how this ash tree through the seasons provided a leitmotif for our life there.

I remember our children growing up there, learning new skills, discovering their potential, until first one, then the other, left for university and a new life across Offa’s Dyke in England. I remember how they came to visit, first alone, then with partners and children, especially at Christmas when the dark old beams made a perfect backdrop for decorations and tree, but also in school holidays and half-terms.

I remember the bedroom I turned into a study and how I spent almost every free hour of three hard but rewarding years, studying for ordination alongside my full-time work in the library. I remember DH helping me by typing my essays on one of our earliest computers, stopping from time to time to suggest I rethink or reword sections which were unclear or badly-expressed.

I remember how, after my first diagnosis of cancer, DH suggested we could add a conservatory at the back of the house where we could sit and look across to the distant hills. I remember the fun of planning it and doing much of the work ourselves, and how it was there that we watched Grandson#1 take his first unsteady solo steps one holiday weekend. I remember sitting there a couple of years later with my youngest sister and her fiancé on a sunny summer afternoon, as we happily planned the wedding I would conduct for them.

I remember how we decided to turn the old cowshed across the farmyard into a holiday cottage, which I advertised in the church press, and how for several years a series of tired clergy came with their families to enjoy the peace and the glorious views.

Later, after our six years living elsewhere while I was in full-time parish ministry, I remember how we moved back there when I retired and realised that it had never really stopped being home.

But now it has. Now home is down in the valley, with a view of the hills above us and of the river at the edge of the garden, while a new family discovers the delights of living in that very special place, and we are content.